Campaign: Corporate PR - C&W boosts logistics service for Royal Mail

Campaign: Not Many Happy Returns

Client: Royal Mail Logistics

PR team: In-house and Cohn & Wolfe

Timescale: November 2003-May 2004

Budget: Around £40,000 per annum

Launched in 2002, Royal Mail reverse logistics is a service that enables retailers to manage the return of unwanted, unsold or damaged goods from stores. Last November, in the face of increased competition and a climate of negative news, Royal Mail Logistics charged Cohn & Wolfe with raising the profile of the service.

Objectives

To promote Royal Mail's reverse logistics service through the dual platforms of cost-effective supply chain management and forthcoming environmental legislation.

Strategy and Plan

To support the campaign's financial arguments, the team commissioned Cranfield School of Management to quantify the cost of inefficient supply chain handling for the retail sector.

The results, that mismanaged returns systems were costing retailers £200m a year, were compiled in a 'Not Many Happy Returns' report and issued to the trade and national media.

The campaign team also took advantage of impending environmental regulations - resulting from the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive - which, by August 2005, will require UK retailers to offer take-back schemes to customers of electronic products.

C&W used each stage of WEEE's consultative and legislative process as a news hook to approach the media with Royal Mail spokespeople.

Both elements of the campaign culminated in a reverse logistics summit, hosted by Royal Mail on 18 May at the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors.

Speakers, including representatives from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as well as the British Retail Consortium, offered advice on WEEE and the future of returns to more than 40 leading retail delegates.

Measurement and Evaluation

Royal Mail Logistics has secured over 40 pieces of national, retail and trade press coverage, including five features in Retail Week.

The launch of the 'Not Many Happy Returns' report attracted, among others, a Financial Times feature, two articles in The Observer and an interview on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours.

In-house evaluation showed Royal Mail and the report's £200m loss estimation for retailers were mentioned in all coverage.

Results

Revenue for the service has increased by £10m and more than 20 business leads have been created.

Retail Week features editor Liz Morrell says the report created interest and that the PR team was helpful in sourcing exclusive information. 'It was one of the best-targeted pieces we've featured,' she adds.

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